You’re Fired!
Week Ten: Try To Keep Up With Me Genius!

Consider the following scenarios:

The phone rings and you receive an invitation to “Come by for dinner on Saturday. I’m making spaghetti.”

– Or –

You receive a beautiful basket from Nic’s Basket Case containing Pasta Sauces (Red and Pesto), Linguine, a red checked tablecloth, candles, a bottle of Shiraz and two lovely glasses, fresh cheeses, a loaf of Great Impasta bread, chocolates from Rubens and a music CD. The note reads: “Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. Please join me on Saturday evening.”

Whose pasta dinner are you more likely to accept? The first invitation offered food; the second offered an experience. This week’s episode of The Apprentice “Sell Your Ideas” was all about the experience.

Pine and Gilmore in “The Experience Economy” suggest that we use our products as props and our services as the stage to engage customers. Are you wondering what this has to do with education? Just as with business and dating, the answer is a resounding “Everything!”

Let’s Review

After Week Two’s episode we talked about a student’s initial impressions. A teacher that conveys an attitude of excitement, acceptance and interest is better able to engage students in the learning process. Teachers set the stage. They do this in many ways including the look of the classroom; the manner in which students are greeted; and their visible attitude – including body language, professional image, etc. Research shows you have only a few seconds to make a first impression. Luckily, teachers have the chance to make a first impression each time a new group of students enters their room. It is in their best interest to create a positive impression.

Craig tried to do just that by reading his original prose “The Company You Keep” and leading Team Magna in prayer. Unfortunately, the rest of the team didn’t understand his message. Despite the lack of communication and lack of enthusiasm over the task, everyone liked Craig. This gave him a second chance with the team.

Why Do I Have To Do This?

Last week we talked about the importance of planning. Planning provides a project’s structure; execution provides the magic. Project leaders and teachers both need to be flexible, appear confident and resist going back to the status quo. This is where skills in Facilitation, Motivation and Problem Solving come into play.

Facilitation is used in a number of settings: Meetings, Arbitration, Courtship, etc. It is especially powerful in a learning environment because the very root of the word (facile) tells us that the purpose of Facilitation is to make easy. So a teacher, using facilitation, is making it easy for students to learn by facilitating the process of learning rather than the results. You accomplish this by creating a safe, stimulating environment. Craig used facilitation skills when he confronted the team about their bad attitudes and got everyone to re-commit to the task. While they still didn’t like the idea of the trunk, they agreed to do their best.

Do-It-Yourself

With his team in step, Craig brought the experience back to the customer. Building a box may be simple but building a treasure chest, a personalized toy box or a place to store your younger brother became an experience. Team Magna involved the children and the adults. Both Magna and the customers had a great time and everyone learned something. Looking at the enthusiasm of the children, the parents and the Home Depot staff, Team Magna realized that Craig’s simple idea was genius.

Net Worth, on the other hand, tried to build an elaborate mobile kitchen cabinet that not everyone needed and no one knew how to build. Lacking planning and resources, they resorted to lecture and demonstrations. Customers were confused and bored. Unlike students in the classroom, they were able to vote with their feet. The Home Depot staff said they left the do-it-yourself out of do-it-yourself. In this case, it cost Net Worth the contest. When this happens in the classroom, the costs are higher. When designing classroom experiences, it’s important that teachers consider what will be relevant, motivating and challenging to the students. This is when learning becomes an experience.

The Donald modeled the benefits of learning experiences when he provided Team Magna their reward. They had the opportunity to experience weightlessness during a flight with Zero-G. How cool is that? Add some science and math activities to the flight Donald, and you could be a teacher.

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